So where to start... Before I left for Rolex I was a bit nervous, not about my horse or myself, but about having missed ten days of riding because of JR shifting a shoe. I felt like I wasn’t in the same training mode that I had been in the whole season, which had gotten better and better, culminating with winning the dressage at Carolina. The break made him a bit edgier and fitter, and made me question how to get my horse back to where he had been or better.
This is such a mental sport, and it can be hard to get your head around it. I rode the four-star dressage test at Fair Hill the weekend before we left for Rolex and JR was really fresh and really hot. Then I had a cross-country school with Phillip that was less than ideal. I think JR needed to get his ya-ya’s out! So on the Sunday before Rolex, Tom and I set up some exercises in our back fields and I just cantered around. I think JR and I were finally able to breath for the first time since before The Fork.
Our drive to Kentucky was great, and I was thinking once again what an honor it is to compete there. I had a little ride-around on Tuesday and JR felt good and then a lesson on Wednesday with David to see what I had. We worked on keeping him round and deep when I went forward, and when I collected, on making him a bit higher than I would in the ring. We made sure I had the ability to change his hips in all three gaits. I felt like all the tools were there for me to capitalize on a good dressage test.
Jacquie warmed me up on Friday and I was really proud of my horse and my test. It wasn’t quite as fluid as Carolina; our trot work wasn’t bad but I lost some points in the halt and rein back, and I think the canter could have been more fluid. I missed one change, and one change was not completely through.
Getting on I felt prepared and I had good warm-up. I decided to go the long way at the first water because I didn’t want to have stupid 20 that early on. I wanted to jump clean, I knew I had a really fast horse, and I knew because of our win at Fair Hill he should be up to the task. The highlights of our round would be the coffin, the key hole, the Head of the Lake and the Normandy Bank. I thought they rode just the way I wanted them to ride. I was on my minute markers the whole way until the cabins at 25 a and b. I’m not sure what happened, but it was not the best jump coming out and luckily I have a horse that fights for his balance and so do I. We ended up staying on our feet by the skin of our teeth and jumped the last two jumps with great style. I was bummed to have a few time but still thrilled.
As always I have things I’d like to make better. I would have loved clean rounds and to finish on my dressage score, but right now I’m so excited for my horse and know the best is yet to come and that just thrills me to death. Watch out, I think we might have a four star win or two in us!
Thank you so much to all the people who helped me get to this point. I’m especially grateful to Phillip Dutton, Bruce and Buck Davidson and Jacqueline Brooks, and the entire Surefire Team.